Saturday, March 10, 2018

One hundred and Sixty Two

I am lost. This is what my dreams are telling me, have always been telling me.

I now know why I’m still alive. It’s because in my dreams, and only in my dreams, she’s still alive. But I can never find her, return to her. The dream ends when I accept that I’ll never see her again.

I’ve dreamed these dreams only since she died. My dreams were different when she was alive.

First was the train dream. I’m on a train, the manuscript of my book in my pocket, on my way to meet with my publisher. She’s sitting opposite me.

We talk. We flirt. The train pulls into a station and she gets up to leave. It’s not my station, but I get up and follow her.

The train pulls out, leaving us alone on the station platform. The empty land, Eliot’s wasteland, stretches to the horizon.

She’s uncomfortable to be alone with me, someone she just met; but when I get her car started she smiles, thanks me and invites me to her house. And then the nightmare begins.

I can’t save her. I can’t save anyone in that house because I'm lost myself.

When I was young(er) my road seemed laid out like those railroad tracks. All I had to do was follow it. I would live unselfishly, for others. At first I resented her for distracting me from following that road. But it was I who chose to follow her.      

Too late now to forget your smile
The way we kiss when we've danced a while
Too late now to imagine myself without you

How could I ever close the door
And go on the same as I was before?
It's too late now 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

One Hundred and Sixty One

I’m closer to death now than I’ve ever been. Not because I’m old(er) now - we can die at any age – but because I’m closer to suicide now than I’ve ever been.

Knowing that should the whips and scorns of time become unbearable, I could always my own quietus make with a bare bodkin, used to comfort me, as it did Nietzsche; but it does no longer.

Knowing myself used to comfort me; but what little self knowledge I have has always come to me in dreams, and it does no longer. I used to have vivid dreams when I was young(er), and remembered them clearly when I woke; but though I still have dreams that I know are just as vivid, because I feel exhausted when I wake, I no longer remember them.

I had a dream last night, which I remember vaguely because it was – or seemed – very long. It began when I entered college, and ended four years later, when I dropped out.

I always dream I’m back in college, or in high school, when I’m learning something. What am I learning now?

Even though there were nights when I rode up and down the highway, trying to summon up the courage to crash my motorcycle, I remember my college years as a relatively happy time. I had friends and lovers. I was liked and respected by my teachers and fellow students - people who I wanted to like and respect in return, but couldn’t, because they seemed to me stupid, unwilling or unable to see what was obvious to me.   

The dream begins as I enter the building on my first day. It’s crowded and noisy. Everyone is talking, getting to know each other like passengers on a cruise ship setting out on a voyage together. But everyone falls silent as I enter. They all turn and look at me, and I realize I'm the spectre at the feast (This is not how it actually happened. Diane sat down beside me during orientation and flirted with me. Dave and Paul both asked to be my roommate. Nevertheless it's true. I've always been the guest who spoils the party for others because he arrives bearing bad news).

We come into this world, out of the everywhere into the here, in media res. The world was here before we were, and we used to be comforted by the knowledge that it would still be here when we’re gone. But no longer. 

It's still hard for me to accept that most other people aren't as disgusted as I am by what we've made of the world, and don't want to remake it, as I do. They want instead to remake themselves, into people who can fit into this world. They want a deck chair on the Titanic.

I've grown old(er), but still I haven’t learned to accept this world as it is. I feel more strongly than ever now that I don't belong here. What I have accepted is that I can’t remake this world alone, and no one else wants to try. Therefore this juggernaut can’t be turned, this engine of destruction can’t be turned off. It’s a bomb whose timer was set at the beginning of our history, and soon will explode.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One Hundred and Sixty

Fourteen years ago, when Bush ran for re-election, everyone else in the company said they were going to vote for him. Why, I asked, after they’d complained about him throughout his first term, would they vote for him again? They told me that, despite his faults, Bush was a Republican; and they would never vote for a Democrat.

They believed their low opinion of Democrats was confirmed when, four years later, they nominated Obama. Mark was the most vocal, yelling angrily that Obama was a socialist who, if elected, would take money away from middle-class people “like us” and give it to “those tool-and-die guys”, apparently forgetting that he had been a “tool-and-die guy” himself only a few years earlier.      

They all assumed I was going to vote for Obama. Bob gently teased me for my naïveté in believing he would keep his campaign promises, while Eric and Lorna each took me aside and told me earnestly that Obama was not “the long-awaited Messiah”. I agreed that Obama was no more likely than any other politician to keep his campaign promises, without telling them that I wouldn’t be voting for him because he wasn’t a liberal, as he pretended, much less a socialist, as they imagined.

Three months ago, when I returned to the company, I wondered whether anyone there had learned anything in the interim. I gently teased Bob for voting for Trump, just as he had teased me for voting for Obama, expecting him to deny having voted for him; but to my surprise he said he was “still cautiously optimistic” about Trump. I’m sure Bob's too intelligent to be the ‘true believer’ he seems to be.

Mark surprised me by saying party labels are meaningless; Bush, Obama, and now Trump, are all war criminals who should be strung up from the nearest lampposts.     

Nick surprised me by saying he’s never taken any interest in politics until now, but Trump scares him.

I was sitting at my desk earlier today, aware that Nick was babbling again, but paying no attention until I heard the words “Pavlov’s dog”. I then turned my head and saw everyone else was looking at me.

“You got his attention”, said Amanda. “I bet you know about Pavlov’s dog, don't you?".

“Of course,” I said. “I’m Russian.”

“I was just telling them I was out with my buddies last night, and I made a joke about Pavlov’s dog”, Nick said to me. "And none of them knew what I was talking about. Can you believe it?”

I could believe it, because everything Nick's said about his buddies suggests they’re fools. But I was surprised Nick knew about Pavlov’s dog – or rather admitted to knowing about it. He's given everyone the impression that he is himself a fool who knows and cares only about video games. But I find his act even less convincing than Bob’s ‘true believer’ act.

While I wondered why he’d stepped out of character, Nick continued talking. I don’t know how he made the segue, but he was now talking about Schrödinger. 

Pavlov’s dog got into the box and fought with Schrödinger’s cat,” I said. “That’s why the cat was dead when the box was opened.”

“That’s not a joke,” Nick said, frowning at me. “I told them a joke, but that’s not a joke.”

So I went back to work.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

One Hundred and Fifty Nine

I'm still alive because I don't take life seriously. Just as the only people who take god seriously are atheists, so the only people who take life seriously are suicides.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

One Hundred and Fifty Eight

Lately I’ve been waking up during the night, often two or three times

I look at the clock, wondering why the alarm didn’t go off, because I feel as though I’ve slept all night. But I always find I've slept only a couple of hours.

I feel as though I’ve slept all night because my dreams leave me exhausted.

I used to remember my dreams in detail. And they were detailed. They were interesting, informative spectacles. I was always a spectator, observing them, aware they were dreams. I learned about myself from watching them. Now I remember nothing of my dreams after I wake. I wouldn’t know I’d been dreaming if I didn’t have the feeling that something momentous had been happening, and then suddenly it stopped. A great cacophony, like the sound and fury of a battle, suddenly ended and there was only the silence of my bedroom.

It was as though I'd been in a forest, and heard the sound of a distant battle. It grew louder and louder as I walked towards it until, finally, I climbed a hill and saw the soldiers below me, fighting; and they, seeing me, stopped fighting and looked up at me. Did they think I was their general?

It was as though I'd been in an insane asylum, and heard its inmates wailing. The sound grew louder and louder as I walked towards it until, finally, I opened a door and saw them; and they, seeing me, stopped wailing and looked at me. Did they think I was their doctor?

It was as though I’d been in hell.

I am in hell. We all are. I used to think I could help them. They thought so, too. But I can help no one.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

One Hundred and Fifty Seven

Google commemorated Marlene Dietrich’s birthday today with a Google Doodle of her dressed in white tie and tails. Her ‘legacy’, claimed one of the accompanying comments, was her “willingness to challenge gender norms”. Another comment described her as bisexual, which is less obtuse than calling her a lesbian, but still wrong. 

Dietrich wasn’t attracted to men or women. She was an actress, therefore a narcissist. She created an androgynous persona to attract an audience composed of both men and women because she knew they both felt trapped in their conventional gender rôles. Like Narcissus, she was attracted to an image of herself that she'd created and saw reflected in the eyes of her audience.

She was an actress who enjoyed the company of men like John Wayne and Ernest Hemingway, who performed their sexual personæ as theatrically as she did hers. 

One comment in support of the view that she was lesbian quoted her as saying “Sex is much better with a woman, but then one can’t live with a woman”; but was she speaking as a woman, or the androgynous persona she created? Either one might find sex with a woman better than sex with a man, because ours is a patriarchal society in which women must learn to please men, but men aren’t expected to know what pleases women. 

A woman might also find sex with another woman better than sex with a man for the same reason that a man might find sex with another man better than sex with a woman. It’s forbidden, which makes it attractive. 

Most men don’t really like women, and most women don’t really like men, because most people are conformists. Even conformists find other conformists unattractive. 

Most people are such conformists that the only nonconformity they can imagine is sexual, which is why they’re obsessed with sex. Bertrand Russell supposedly encouraged his students to have sex so they weren't thinking about it constantly, and could give their undivided attention to mathematics. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

One Hundred and Fifty Six

I’m sad when they’re happy, because I know it won’t last and they don't seem to.

They say they believe they will live forever. That would be terrible if it were true; but they say all the wrongs we suffer in this life will be made right in the next, and all the wrongs we do to others in this life will be forgiven in the next. I’m sure they want to believe it, but I don’t see how they can.

I think I can live with the truth. At least I try. But they don’t think they can. That makes me sad.